So you love the many benefits of running—stronger bones, slimmer body, stronger heart—but aren’t so fond of, well, running. Maybe you get bored out on the road, or maybe you just don’t like getting so sweaty. Either way, we’ve got three words for you: distract, distract, distract! Try one of these seven brilliantly offbeat races, none of which requires you to run more than five miles. No matter which catches your fancy, we’re betting it’ll make you rethink your opinion that there’s no such thing as a “fun run.”
The Chocolate Race
St. Catharine’s (Niagara), Ontario, Canada
Distance: 10 miles, 10k, or 5k; walkers welcome
Next race: May 14, 2014
Learn more: www.thechocolaterace.com
Chocolate makes everything better, right? Right! Indulge in chocolate-covered strawberries along the course (plus a truffle shot at the 10-mile station, if you choose the longest distance). Then, satisfy that sweet tooth with chocolate truffles, croissants and fudge once you finish—and wash it all down with a glass of pink champagne. (Can’t make it? Consider one of the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k races across the country, with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and dipping chocolate awaiting you post-race. More info: www.hotchocolate15k.com.)
Chase the Gorilla
Next race: April 19, 2014
Learn more: www.northshoreymca.org
Like the Pied Piper, a gorilla—O.K., someone dressed as a gorilla—on a Segway leads this race through town while racers try to catch him. (Yes, you read that right.) Trust us, boredom will not be a problem—plus, you’ll leave with a terrific story for your next cocktail party.
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run
Central Park, New York, N.Y.
Distance: 4 miles
Next race: December 31, 2013
Learn more: www.nyrr.org (note: new info isn’t posted yet)
Following a dance party and costume parade, runners start as the clock strikes midnight, toast the New Year with non-alcoholic champagne at the half-way point, and finish the speedy course underneath a fantastic fireworks display. Who needs Times Square?
The Color Run and The Color Vibe
Cities across the U.S.
Distance: 5k (walkers welcome)
Next race: Varies depending on location
Learn more: thecolorrun.com, www.thecolorvibe.com
Though these are two different races series, the idea is the same: Runners start in white shirts, have brightly-hued (but non-toxic) powder thrown at them during the race, and end up at a huge, happy, color-drenched party afterward. Bonus: The runs are untimed, so you can just relax and have fun.
Mississippi Blues Marathon & Half Marathon
Distance: 26.2 miles or 13.1 miles (or 5 – 6.2 miles as a relay)
Next race: January 11, 2014
Learn more: www.msbluesmarathon.com
No need to sing the blues while you run—musicians at the start, finish line and all along this race course will do it for you. And really, there’s nothing like authentic live-band blues music to take your mind off your aching feet! Not jazzed to do 13 miles or more? You can draft up to four pals to divvy up the marathon length, and get away with as little as five miles. Also worth noting: The blues-themed finisher medals are among the coolest we’ve seen.
NYC Pizza Run
Tompkins Square Park, New York, N.Y.
Distance: 2.25 miles
Next race: September 2013 (exact date TBD)
Learn more: nycpizzarun.com
No need to carbo-load pre-race because you’ll be downing plenty while you run. As you travel the super-short course, you’ll stop at checkpoints to eat 3 slices of pizza. It starts around lunchtime, so think of it as the ultimate to-go meal!
Beat Beethoven 5k Run
Where: Pleasant Grove, Utah (Though not an official series, similar races take place in cities across the U.S. Google “Beat Beethoven” to find.)
Next race: TBD
Learn more: www.beatbeethoven5krun.org
Here’s the scenario: As you cross the start line, the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony begin to play. While the music thunders along, you and your fellow racers—including ole’ Ludwig himself, dressed in wig and tails—attempt to finish the course before the thrilling final note sounds about 32 minutes later. Bravo!